ACCC pursues ByteCard in court for unfair contract terms

ACCC pursues ByteCard in court for unfair contract terms

Unfair terms include not giving customers a chance to terminate contracts if pricing is varied and ByteCard terminating the contract at any time without giving any cause or reason

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has began proceedings in the Federal Court against ISP, ByteCard, alleging unfair customer contract terms.

The ACCC highlighted a number of clauses in the ISP's standard form consumer contracts were unfair terms and should be void.

This includes enabling ByteCard, which also trades as Netspeed Internet Communications, to unilaterally vary the price under an existing contract without providing the customer with a right to terminate the contract; require the consumer to indemnify ByteCard in any circumstance, even where the contract has not been breached, and the liability, loss or damage may have been caused by ByteCard's breach of the contract; and enable the ISP to unilaterally terminate the contract at any time with or without cause or reason.

ACCC alleges that these clauses contravene the unfair contract terms provisions of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), which were introduced in July 2010. It also considers that these clauses are not reasonably necessary to protect ByteCard’s legitimate business interests.

The matter has been filed in the Federal Court’s Fast Track List and is listed for a scheduling conference in Melbourne on June 13.

The ACCC undertook an industry review and engagement which examined consumer contracts in many industries including airline, telecommunications, fitness and vehicle rental industries, as well as some contracts commonly used by online traders and travel agents.

On 15 March, the ACCC released the report, Unfair Contract Terms Industry Review Outcomes, which identified a number of problematic terms in standard form consumer contracts.

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